Focus 2019



An important meeting was held in OSL yesterday between Norwegian Management and Union Leaders representing workgroups from the entire Norwegian system. It’s the first time that cabin crew, pilots, and ground staff (based in OSL) all sat in the same room together with Norwegian management. The meeting was scheduled in order to discuss the Focus2019 initiative and how we can all contribute to the effort to streamline and improve efficiency within the Norwegian Group.

Before the meeting began, the cabin crew union leaders handed Management a signed letter that can be seen here: Focus 2019 Letter.pdf

An initial presentation was provided by our CFO, Geir Karlson, who provided an update on the current financial situation of the Company. Due to the commercial sensitivity of the information, I am unable to provide details on every cost-saving measure the Company is implementing, but I will say that the situation is manageable and if the right decisions are made, Norwegian will emerge as a stronger Company in the next two years. One of the decisions that I will share with you is that Norwegian has paid out an extraordinary sum of money in passenger compensation in the past few years due to maintenance delays and cancellations. In the next few months, Norwegian plans on permanently grounding several [older] Dreamliner aircraft and will use these aircraft as spares. Having spare aircraft is normal practice for many large airlines and now that Norwegian has spare Dreamliner aircraft, it will no longer have to wet lease when one or more of our aircraft breaks down.

Later in the meeting, we had a presentation by the Commercial department who went into the finer details of their role within the Company and provided an outline of the changes to the production across the network for the summer schedule. This includes a reduction in the capacity all over the system including the grounding of several older 787s (still taking delivery of new 787s) and the sale of eleven 737 aircraft. This also has implications for bases the following bases that Norwegian plans to permanently close in upcoming months: Rome (short haul base only), Palma de Mallorca, Tenerife South, Las Palmas, Fort Lauderdale (pilots only), Bangkok (pilots only), Amsterdam (pilots only), Stewart, and Providence. Base bidding should open next week whereby all crew may bid for opportunities in both short-haul and long-haul bases. I told Norwegian VP of Cabin Crew Gitte Leonce, “since we are hiring cabin crew in JFK, I hope we can accommodate all Stewart and Providence cabin crew in the US long-haul operation.” She said she will do what she can to make this happen.

Even though the Fort Lauderdale pilot base is closing, there are no plans to get rid of or downsize the Fort Lauderdale cabin crew base. I was told that Fort Lauderdale is an important crew base for Norwegian and it’s their goal to eventually use Fort Lauderdale or Miami as a gateway to perform “5th freedom” flights to South America. This is no confirmed date or plan as to when this will happen.

At the end of the meeting, we were told that as a part of Focus 2019, all departments and areas of operation in the Company are under review. Many changes are expected including the consolidation of the AOC structure. In other words, we will see far fewer AOCs at Norwegian in the near future. Management asked the union leaders to share the cost saving ideas we brought with us to the meeting. I shared all of the ideas you emailed to me in the past couple of weeks. Management was pleasantly surprised to hear the great ideas from the crew. We’ll see in the upcoming weeks or months whether or not Management actually implements these ideas.

Management also shared the areas in the crew operation that they are currently reviewing. They showed us this list and requested that we share it with you to initiate a discussion and then report back with the items the crew are willing and able to give up:

  • Crew meals (removal)
  • Breakfast in hotels (removal)
  • City Center Hotels (removal)—only affects short haul
  • Charging crew members who don’t cancel their unused hotel rooms
  • Sick leave (some bases are running at 30%)—only affects short haul
  • Permanent fees and allowances (e.g. SCCM pay when not flying as SCCM)
  • Smaller bases on variable rosters—only affects short haul

In addition, there was a proposal that all basic salaries be *temporarily* reduced as follows:

Option 1- Flight crew by 7% and Cabin crew by 4% ; Option 2– Flight crew & Cabin crew by 5.8%

I’m sure you can imagine the reaction in the room when they told us they wanted us to take a pay cut. One of the union leaders pointed out to Management that they are asking the crew members to take a pay cut while the employees in HDQ are only asked to take a “pay freeze”. Management said that the cuts were necessary in order for the company to meet its financial targets and to “take back” this information to you, our members, for consideration. We agreed to do this, but several of the cabin crew union leaders including myself told Management that we were already earning poverty wages and our members would not likely approve any cut to our wages.

I fully appreciate that this news will spur many emotions including fear, sadness, and anger; however, it is important not to overreact as there are still many talks to be had. We are also in the middle of contract negotiations so many of these items will also be discussed at the Negotiating Table. In the spirit of Focus 2019 and the promise I made to management, I am brining the above “cost saving” ideas to you to initiate a discussion without any guarantee that you, the cabin crew, will support them.

I am scheduling an online meeting today, Saturday, and Monday at 1200 Eastern Time to talk about the Focus 2019 initiative and answer any questions you have including negotiations-related issues. Please click on the following link to join the meeting:

If you aren’t able to join any of the online meetings or if you want to contact me with a question or concern, I can be reached at the contact information below. In the meantime, I would ask you to treat the information I shared with you in this email as confidential and refrain from promulgating outside of the Company.

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